I came to Discipleship Training School in Madison expecting a very special 6 months with Jesus. But it surpassed my expectations. I got the great teaching, discipleship and guidance that I knew would be a part of my experience. But these three things really surprised me:
1. Fantastic Food
Coming into DTS, I expected to have “camp food” on a daily basis. You know what I’m talking about — industrialized food out of a can or frozen bag that is high on comfort and low on nutrition. Instead, the meals were all made from scratch, with fresh fruits and vegetables. I was treated to cuisine from many different nations and thoroughly enjoyed every meal.
Imagine authentic tacos using recipes from Mexico, authentic Indian curries because people brought the recipe back from India, or the best homemade macaroni and cheese you’ve ever tasted, because we are still American and face it, Wisconsinites know their cheeses!
Although I have many food allergies, the staff always had a variation of the meal for me to eat. If you have food allergies, you know what it’s like to be served a dry chicken breast and told to find the salad bar. It’s just not like that here! We love good food, and want to provide good nutrition too.
2. Making Great Friends with People of Different Ages
At 31, I was one of the older students in my DTS. At first, I was very aware of the 18 year olds and how MUCH younger they were than me, and how much life experience separated us. I had gotten through my drama stage, and some of my classmates were still smack in the middle of it. I was beyond staying up until 3 am just because I could, and just valued different things.
One of my staff told me that there is no age in the Kingdom of God. I thought about that for a long time. In the Kingdom of God, maturity is measured rather than age. God values intimacy over position or life experience.
It took a while for this to sink in. But eventually I noticed there were far more similarities than differences with my younger classmates. We all struggled with laying down our rights, learning to trust, and facing our insecurities. We all wanted to understand the Father heart of God and experience more of His love. And the truth was, I had been fighting some of these things longer than they had. And I had things to learn from them.
By the end of Outreach, my closest friend in DTS was the youngest student. And now my best friend is my DTS mentor who is 10 years older than I am. Age doesn’t have to be a thing!
3. There Weren’t Tons of Finicky Rules
I attended a conservative Bible College before DTS, and there were plenty of rules there. Coming into DTS, I expected something vaguely similar. Instead I was told that we would live by principles and some basic guidelines. We were taught that rules control a person’s outward actions, but it’s the heart that motivates real lasting change. True change can only happen from within. If it turned out that we needed more rules, we would make them, they said.
As crazy as it sounds, that’s really what happened. People dealt with the natural consequences of their actions rather than ‘breaking a rule.’ For example, if someone stayed up really late, they were crazy tired in class the next day. Our staff helped us process how these natural consequences were affecting us and people started to change because they wanted to, not because they had to.
My DTS at YWAM Madison delivered way more than I ever expected and my life will never be the same.
By Kate, YWAM Madison Admissions & Bible School for the Nations Staff